The SLENZ Update – No 123, August 07, 2009

THE COUCH IN THE COMPUTER

Virtual psychology, therapy

to get own  OLIVE world

InWorld

Using the On-Line Interactive Virtual Environment (OLIVE™) virtual world platform from Forterra Systems, InWorld Solutions™, of Palo Alta, California,  has developed a virtual world specifically designed for behavioral healthcare.

Created for use by clinical institutions and individual therapists, the online application, InWorld, has been designed to  overcome emotional and cognitive barriers to therapy, counseling, and education by engaging clients and mobilising their active participation.

Like health and medical applications in Second Life, InWorld can also be used for therapist training and supervision. Although in a different virtual world it will join a number of pioneering medical training and health care applications being run in Second Life such as  the SLENZ Project’s midwifery education pilot program being run by  Otago Polytechnic,  Auckland University’s Virtual Medical Centre,  and  a myriad of other universities and organisations around the world who are doing pioneering medical and healthcare work in  MUVEs.

The InWorld application was scheduled  to be unveiled in Toronto, Canada,  today, Friday,  at an American Psychological Association (APA)  117th Annual Convention  plenary session entitled Next Stop: Virtual Psychology and Therapy.

“We founded InWorld Solutions to bring new technology to the field of behavioral healthcare,” said InWorld Solutions co-founder and CEO Walter Greenleaf, a pioneer in medical virtual environments and a Stanford University-trained research scientist specialising in behavioral neuroscience and cognitive rehabilitation.

“I’m excited about the convergence of several technical and social trends that enable us to provide InWorld today: the advancement of virtual environment technology, the penetration of broadband Internet, the affordability of computing power, and the growing adoption of virtual worlds,” he added.

Les Paschall, InWorld Solutions co-founder and CEO of CFG Health Systems, a 450-clinician behavioral healthcare provider in Marlton, New Jersey, said, “The potential demand for this kind of program is enormous. InWorld is designed to manage a wide range of disorders, and we’re seeing unprecedented levels of engagement and participation in our first use with clients who suffer from oppositional defiance disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as patients dealing with issues of anger management and substance abuse.”

The pair claimed that  InWorld is the first and only product to offer therapists a complete solution by combining a virtual world with important clinical functions such as session notes, appointment calendar, clinical illustrations, a clinical manual, and the management of avatars, the personalized characters used by therapists and their clients.

Complements traditional therapy

Interactions use speech, so keyboard skills are not required. Sessions are recorded and can be saved for review and playback from different viewing perspectives.

It complements traditional talk therapy, helping the therapeutic process to go deeper and progress more rapidly for individual, family, and group therapy. In addition, InWorld can increase access to behavioral healthcare by allowing therapists and clients to meet in the same or different locations.

It was first used in residential care facilities for teens more than two years ago and was found to be a successful treatment option, making it possible to engage patients in the therapeutic process in ways that not only enable therapy, but facilitate faster progress.

In every setting where it has been used, clinicians and patients have reported, according to the company, that it is an important addition to the tools available for the management and treatment of behavioral health.

InWorld, which runs on the Windows operating system and requires broadband Internet access, will be available for download from the InWorld Solutions website in October 2009 at an introductory subscription-based pricing of  US$95 per month per clinician.

See also:  Use of Virtual Environments in Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and  here.

inworld2

The SLENZ Update – No 31, December 04, 2008

Count down to SLENZ

‘open’ workshop

December 15, from 9am to 5pm (New Zealand Time) (SL Time 2pm – 10 pm December 14) : New Zealand’s leading virtual world learning research group, Second Life Education New Zealand (SLENZ), has invited interested educators to attend a free, one-day workshop in real life on Wellington Institute of Technology’s Wellington campus and in Second Life on the Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology’s island of Koru (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Koru/156/122/27). Registration essential on first-come, first-served basis as numbers limited. For registration email: Susan.Jenkins@weltec.ac.nz

One global player in virtual education

‘Immersive Education’

egypt_girl_closeup_small

The range  of educational opportunities and organisations promoting or researching  virtual worlds is increasing day by day. One of the more interesting is Immersive Education, developed by the Immersive Education Initiative, a non-profit international collaboration of universities, colleges, research institutes, consortia and companies  working together to define and develop open standards, best practices, platforms, and communities of support for virtual worlds, simulators and game-based learning and training systems.(http://ImmersiveEducation.org)

Immersive Education combines interactive 3D graphics, video game and simulation technology, virtual reality, voice chat, Web cameras and rich digital media with collaborative online course environments and classrooms. Immersive Education gives participants a sense of “being there” even when attending a class or training session in person isn’t possible, practical, or desirable, which in turn provides educators and students with the ability to connect and communicate in a way that greatly enhances the learning experience.(http://immersiveeducation.org/TalkingPoints.pdf)

The Immersive Education Initiative is an official activity of the international Media Grid standards group. (http://mediagrid.org/) The Media Grid standards group actively applies open standards to specific problem spaces, such as distance education, digital libraries, and the impact of digital media on culture and society.
Immersive Education is not limited to one platform but considers the whole gamut and for that reason alone is well worth following.  For instance late last month Immersive Education Japan (iED Japan) ran a series of Immersive Education Days at University of Aizu, Japan, as part of Immersive Education: ASIA, programme.  Immersive Education presentations, lectures, workshops and related events included IEI members from Boston College, University of Aizu, National University of Singapore, Keio University, Smithsonian Institution, Montana State University, Southeast Kansas Education Service Center at Greenbush, University of Essex and Sun Microsystems to provide an in-depth overview of Immersive Education, the Education Grid [http://TheEducationGrid.org] and related technologies. To coincide with the event Japan’s first “node” (virtual world and collaboration server) on the Education Grid was announced. Hosted by the University of Aizu and sponsored by Sun Microsystems, Japan’s Education Grid node will enable cultural and technological exchange with educators and students around the world through virtual learning worlds and collaboration environments. Related announcements/initiatives included the launch of three new Project Wonderland (pictured – video is on IE site, along with videos from Second Life and Croquet) Community Groups; progress report by the Open File Formats Technology Group; formation of the Library Technology Working Group; formation of the Psychology of Immersive Environments Technology Working Group; formation of the Assessment, Evaluation and Grading Technology Working Group; preview of Second Life, realXtend, and OpenSim nodes on the Education Grid; and the official launch of the Initiative’s “Own the Node” program.

wonderland_shared_applications

Second Life: Better every day?

Some Second Life residents might not agree with the Linden Lab claim that  Second Life is becoming more usable and more reliable. Perhaps I’m tempting the Gods but I for one , however, believe the claim. Putting aside ISP problems my  Second Life experience has improved considerably over the past three years – and I would average more than two hours a day in world often at peak US usage periods – but its still far from perfect.

I make this observation in light of the  Lindens’ recent claim (http://blog.secondlife.com/2008/12/02/m-linden-second-life-update-and-welcome-to-howard-linden-aka-howard-look/) that their staff has been hard at work over the last  few months making Second Life more relevant, more usable and more reliable.

“Our work is showing up in Second Life’s usage statistics,” M.Linden said on Tuesday. ” On Sunday of this past weekend, we hit another concurrency high of 76,946 and yesterday log-ins for the previous 60 days crossed the 1.4 Million mark.”

Noting that reliability was a top strategic focus for the Lab, he said that the launch of LL Net (the private fiber optic ring connecting the Linden Lab data centers) to provide additional redundancy and eliminate  reliance on VPNs, was ahead of schedule..

On the issue of making Second Life more relevant, he said,  the Big Spaceship project to improve residents’ first hour experience was proceeding well alongside a new website design.

Although the team also was making great progress on the major usability project, redesigning  the viewer so that it was easy to use for new residents without sacrificing functionality for experienced users, he said, it would be well into the second half of next year before the new client was implemented.

At the same time Linden Lab has been out hiring  and as placed Howard Look (SL:Howard Linden) formerly a VP of Software at Pixar, into the role of SVP of Customer Applications ( “The Front”) He will be responsible for leading the engineering team responsible for the customer-facing part of the Second Life experience.

Interestingly for educators Howard also has a passion for education and spent time this past summer as a substitute teacher (4th grade and middle school math).

EVENT


December 12, 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m: (Public seminar) Open Educational Resources and Scholarship in the 21st Century, University of Auckland Conference Centre, 423-342, 22 Symonds Street, Auckland. Speaker: Joseph Hardin, the Director of the Collaborative Technologies Laboratory in the Media Union and Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and currently the Board Chair for the Sakai project. Prior to joining the University of Michigan, he was head of the Software Development Group (SDG) and Associate Director for Software Development at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois. Most notably, his teams were responsible for the development of the NCSA Mosaic browser, arguably the tool that launched the world wide web.



The SLENZ Update – No 26, November 18, 2008

A personal view

Can we unlock Ivory-tower gate?

cheguevara

I sometimes get the feeling  that some educators move into places like the web and virtual worlds in order to keep the lock on the gate or keep “control” of the world of learning – in other  words keep the learning  behind the ivory-tower  gate  – in a universe which is expanding learning opportunities exponentially outside the normal education system.

Google Search and the wikipedia system, as unreliable as the data  they dredge up or record sometimes is, has made information available to (initially) anyone who writes/reads English, and has access to a phoneline and a computer; almost any old computer. For  many the advent of the web as we know it today has made the ivory tower virtually irrelevant for true learning.

Communities of interest/barriers which tertiary institutions thrive on – and which I once thought were the reason for universities: where else could one easily meet girls with the same interests who were away from home and available? – have given way in many cases to web-based social networks, which today are more pervasive and often more tribal than fraternities or sororities. The ivory-tower communities of interest also encompass the professional groups which have grown out of tertiary institutions to ensure the closed-shop enclave nature  of some intellectual/professional pursuits and thus increase the workplace value of a tertiary education.(eg law and medicine).

But the barriers, which started to break down in the 1960s with the call for the establishment of “free” universities without examinations or structured courses, or in some cases attendance – even though re-erected by academics wanting to protect their patches – are threatened with complete demolition by the web with its virtually-free, anytime, anywhere  knowledge and/or propaganda.

Today anyone who can read and write can educate themselves, given the will, the discipline, a computer and a web link. But they still can’t get the piece of paper that would  allow them to be recognised as a “practitioner”: Medical associations and other groups, created alongside the English-speaking ivory-tower system, do all they can to keep the foreign-language/university educated, self-educated and non ivory-tower educated hoi polloi out, citing lower education standards in the university/country of origin/culture differences, or  non-recognised credentials.

I had hoped – and this is a personal, non-academic view – that there was a new force/ideas afoot with the Edupunk movement in the US, but alas I think I might have been mistaken and what is happening in SLENZ might be closer to the future, where the whole process of the creation of the SLENZ project has appeared to have been democratised, transparent and allowing input, albeit guided,  from all. It is also in many ways directed at adults who  the ivory-tower system has often conveniently bypassed.

sararobbins1

I feel that even some of those in the edupunk movement [The revolution will be syndicated (http://blip.tv/file/1441388/)], in proclaiming their attempts to break the ivory-tower barriers and break out of what they see as the stifling, red-tape ridden, zombified (LMS) systems are doing little more  than trying to preserve their academic power by taking the nuts and bolts  off campus, while hypocritically still keeping their roles as paid academics within their institutions. Their middle-class methods may work in a society where  computers and broadband gigabytes off-campus are virtually free, but in fact, also serve to alienate those who are the true revolutionaries in education and elsewhere, who are working completely (and often anarchically) outside the  ivory-tower system, like many of the bloggers on the web.  The edupunk movement, also like many of today’s great, well-washed, middle-class don’t seem to understand that Che Guevara was a “real revolutionary” who got down and dirty, not just a model for a tee-shirt logo.
To me the edupunk attack on zombie systems in Ivory-tower education reeks of the faddish criticism  which  often surrounds Bill Gates and the Microsoft Windows operating system. They both “suck” but if it wasn’t for the Ivory Tower system we wouldn’t have academics who could freely attack it by biting the hand that feeds them, and if it wasn’t for the ubiquitous Windows system we might not have the cheap PCs and the Web as we know it today.

Although, like PhD candidate and VW researcher, Sara Robbins-Bell (SL: Intellagirl Tully), I would be loath to have a doctor who had trained and graduated only in SL, or done his study through blogs, perform surgery on me,  I still think there is space for a much wider appreciation of the learning choices and desires of the students outside the ivory-tower system; learning through peers and users, even bloggers,  rather than academics. No longer can we view learning  in this way as second class to piece of paper with “graduate” on it.

The problem, however, for the self/web-educated woman/man is how to ascribe a recognised/accepted, standard measure to one’s capabilities in order to secure one’s first, paid employment. After that, of course, one  should be able to secure employment on the basis of work experience and references.

These thoughts on where education is going and the on-going need to develop critical literacy in the learning population in general, if we are going to benefit as much as we should from the educational possibilities of the web in all its forms, were brought to mind by two blogged articles and videos which I am grateful that academics Leigh Blackall (SL: Leroy Goalpost) and Dr Scott Diener (SL: Professor Noarlunga) pointed me too.

Although long (54 minutes and 55 minutes) they will reward you by giving you an inside view on where web-based education in 21st Century US could be going. The first, a streaming and streamed video presentation at the New Media Consortium, suffers from 15 minutes or so of old-hat waffle posing as SL theatre which is fairly old hat, while in the second, Sara Robbins-Bell, starts well  on where education is  going for the millennials but then fudges the issue with her solutions, which I personally felt were more about keeping academics in control than in actual learning for students. Her reference to the on-going need for critical literacy education hit a nerve though.

Leigh, a SLENZ “learning designer”and educational developer with Otago Polytechnic, said, for him, the significance of  “zombies, edtech survival and edupunk ” [“The revolution will be syndicated” [(http://blip.tv/file/1441388/)]  was:

  • Innovative approach to live presentation in the education technology sector.
  • Primary content was developed outside SL and so an example of reusability and accessibility.
  • Use of a Zombie Flaming theme as an ice breaker in a live presentation in SL.
  • Zombies as a kind of homage to some SL pop culture and griefing fun.
  • Streaming Blip.tv videos into SL.
  • Generation of Machinima from the presentation (more accessibility and reusability).
  • Inspired after event edtech blogging interests.

For another report on the presentation go to http://cogdogblog.com/2008/11/07/revolution-is-syndicated/

Meanwhile Diener,  [http://scottdiener.edublogs.org/], who has created the the Long White Cloud island in SL (Long White Cloud/31/38/27) for Auckland University, returned from the Educause 2008 conference, “overwhelmed with the sheer bulk of information I encountered. “

tower&cloud

Describing Sarah Robbins-Bill presentation, “Social Media and Education: The Conflict Between Technology and Institutional Education, and the Future” ( http://hosted.mediasite.com/hosted5/Viewer/?peid=5eb9cd4798a4488288e0b6d117f5c99c) as a highlight he said she presented “a quite challenging picture of the future of higher education in an era of rapidly expanding, free, and leveraged technologies” before “highly” recommending that one should view it. Some of you may have seen it in the Educause 2008  link files posted previously, but you haven’t it is well worth the time spent with it.

In his blog Scott also recommended a new online 2.1MB book, “The Tower and the Cloud – Higher Education in the Age of Cloud Computing,”  edited by Richard Katz. Click on book cover.

The SLENZ Update – No 19, October 26, 2008

Auckland ‘ER’ in SL

Vital signs - a patient is checked

Vital signs - a patient is checked

Dr Scott Diener (Professor Noarlunga, pictured) [http://scottdiener.edublogs.org/], at the University of Auckland, has created a simulated hospital emergency room where small teams of medical and nursing students can learn to diagnose and treat patients requiring emergency treatment.

Sited on an University of Auckland island, appropriately called the Long White Cloud [ http://slurl.com/secondlife/Long%20White%20Cloud/31/39/28 ], the medical facilities are only one of several temporary and ongoing experimental developments, all aimed at using Second Life as an educational environment.

The island project has been directed, created and currently ‘financed’ – almost single-handedly – by Diener, Associate Director IT Services for Academic and Collaborative Technologies at the university.

Speaking recently on the Emergency Room side of the project, Diener said, “This project is just in the beginning design stages, and is contingent upon grant funds becoming available.  The intent is to initially develop a hospital ‘ward’ for use with  3rd and 4th year medical students.”

A visit to the island demonstrates just what Diener has achieved from his sometimes frustrating “labour of love” with its initial goal of developing several “experimental” medical simulations (e.g. a hospital environment), along with interactive spaces for students and staff.

The simulations already created relate to medicine, surgery, nursing, psychology, and disaster preparedness. Already instructors can assess “student”  abilities in the diagnosis of instructor-determined medical scenarios in real time and it is planned to have real life actor/avatars play patient roles based on specific symptom/attitude etc scripts as a learning aid.

Diener notes that medical students/interns from distant places could be tested in this way via broadband and Second Life without the cost of either traveling to  a specific campus or the cost of having to “hire” and train actor- patients to “work” on a number of university campuses.

Currently the ground floor of the Auckland University simulated medical school houses the Medical Clinic/hospital Emergency Room and related facilities (doctor offices).   The Second floor houses an intensive care unit. The nursing unit  being built in collaboration with Boise State University, US, will attempt to mimic the real-life nursing simulation environment at Boise. A study is currently being designed to compare the effectiveness of this environment against the Boise RL simulation.

Various medical components, monitors and instruments are being or have been designed for the simulations and PBL (problem-based learning) scenarios are being developed. The interactive Emergency Room instrumentation was built by David Bodily, a nursing educator from Wyoming University.  He also is a participant in the study with Boise.<!–[if !mso]> <! st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } –>

Diener has invited international participation in the simulations.

Tim Shadbolt visited? Did he?

Tim Shadbolt or only a facsimile?

Tim Shadbolt or only a facsimile?

The Second Life paparazzi recently spied what they thought was Tim Shadbolt, New Zealand politician and Invercargill Mayor, enjoying a stroll around the grounds of the Southern Institute of Technology’s handsome build on the  Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology’s collaborative island sim, Koru. http://slurl.com/secondlife/Koru/156/122/27

“The Southern Institute of Technology’s (SIT) presence within Second Life was initially proposed by a team of three third-year Bachelor of Information Technology (BIT) students as the subject matter for the programme’s compulsory Project 701 paper,” according to a mid-year announcement of the developing SIT presence on Koru. “Primarily the team is to produce an area for the promotion of SIT, in general, while subsequently promoting current students achievements in the Arts, Digital Media, Film, and Information Technology. Additional deliverables include providing a medium in which current and/or prospective students can meet, develop, and secure positive relationships. Further investigation into the educational value of Second Life will be assessed by the success or failure of this initial stage.”

Now the paparazzi all know that Tim has been a major supporter of the Southern Institute but in handing us the picture above they just could not confirm whether it was him or not. But it sure looked like him. Dear reader we will leave it up to you to decide.

Business without borders

There has been considerable discussion in Second Life business and education   circles about “work spaces in a box” following the Linden Lab  announcement  that Rivers Run Red’s Immersive Workspaces 2.0, a comprehensive virtual world collaboration solution, is being made available on the Second Life Grid.

The companies have also announced a strategic partnership to sell and market each other’s products, either individually or jointly, and to explore developing and deploying additional offerings for Linden Lab’s growing base of enterprise customers.

Announcing the collaboration Linden Labs said that with enterprise use of the Second Life Grid on the rise, organisations were investing more in their virtual environments and moving mission critical aspects of their businesses into the virtual world such as distance learning, product prototyping and collaboration.

“This migration has created demand for a solution that enables organisations to quickly implement, configure and populate a virtual world environment suitable for their needs,” Linden said. ” Immersive Workspaces meets these needs by pre-configuring workspace options and wrapping the Second Life Grid solution in a web-based framework rich with familiar tools and interfaces.

“… Immersive Workspaces enables organisations to construct custom virtual work environments – including meetings rooms and design centers – that can dramatically change the way they collaborate and communicate. A set of tightly integrated web-based applications and the ability to seamlessly upload and integrate real world content – eg PowerPoint – brings enterprise-level efficiency and flexibility into a virtual world.

“In today’s financial climate, every enterprise regardless of size or industry is looking for ways to increase productivity, reduce costs, and boost overall profitability,” said Mark Kingdon, Chief Executive Officer, Linden Lab. “With documented benefits and use cases and enterprise-ready applications such as Immersive Workspaces from partners such as Rivers Run Red, the Second Life Grid is the ideal platform for enterprises looking to add a virtual element to their operations.”

For more information about Immersive Workspaces on the Second Life Grid please visit http://www.immersivespaces.com, http://www.secondlifegrid.net or contact business@lindenlab.com.

Useful videos

We owe  Australian SLED lister Bruce Sommerville for pointing us the five useful YouTube videos on the topic of ‘Second Life Education’ collected together on the SLEDevents playlist at:http://au.youtube.com/user/sledevents

He also noted that the AUSTAFE conference in early october was simulcast in  Second Life

Event

A special panel on Assessing the Student Experience in Second Life at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference in Orlando will be streamed into Second Life on (Second Life time) Wednesday, October 29
from 7:30am – 8:20am SLT. SL SLURL:http://slurl.com/secondlife/ClevelandPlus/191/106/25

Difficult timing for Kiwis but this panel will bring together practitioners from four institutions that have experimented with using virtual worlds such as Second Life to enhance student learning.

The speakers are:Tanya Joosten, Lecturer and Educational Technology Consultant, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; AJ Kelton, Director, Emerging Instructional Tech, College of Humanities & Social Sciences, Montclair State University;Deborah Keyek-Franssen, Director of Academic Technologies, University of Colorado at Boulder; and Wendy Shapiro, Senior Academic Technology Officer, Case Western Reserve University.

The session will be moderated by Steven J. Taylor, Director, Academic Computing Services, Vassar College, and session convener is Lloyd Onyett, Assistant Dean for Technology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

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